"Since we were 13 years old," Kovalchuk said to reporters when asked how long he and Ovechkin have spoken about playing for the same club. "We played together on the national team but never for the same team. Usually, we battle against each other."
The Capitals traded a third-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for Kovalchuk on Sunday. The 36-year-old potted six goals and seven assists in 22 games with Montreal this year. His contract was terminated by the Los Angeles Kings earlier this season.
"I have a great time in Montreal. I think that was one of the best decisions in my hockey life that I go there," Kovalchuk added. "Now I have a chance to play for a contender so it's a great opportunity."
While it's unclear where Kovalchuk will slot into the Capitals' lineup, he was practicing on the team's third line and second power-play unit at practice Tuesday, according to The Washington Post's Samantha Pell.
"It all depends on how I'm going to play," Kovalchuk said when asked how he'll handle a smaller role in Washington. "If I play well I might become the first-line player - you never know."
Kovalchuk is slated to make his Capitals debut Tuesday when Washington takes on the Winnipeg Jets.